Birmingham made soccer history tonight at Good People Brewing Company.
The United Soccer League – USL – announced Birmingham will be a part of its expansion in the 2019 season. Official USL play in Birmingham will begin in 2019, with a Premier Development League season preceding in 2018.
Currently named “USL Birmingham,” the new professional team will be owned by local businessmen Jeff Logan, co-owner of the Birmingham Barons baseball team; James Outland, founder and managing partner of New Capital Partners and Lee Styslinger, III, chairman and CEO of Altec Inc.
USL is one division below Major League Soccer. Presently, the USL has 30 teams in the U.S. and Canada, including teams in Charlotte, Tampa Bay, Orlando, Oklahoma City and several others. The league is also expanding into Nashville for the 2018 season.
“The USL continues to lead the growth of professional soccer across the country and we are thrilled to announce Birmingham as our newest market,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “We continue toward our goal of becoming one of the top Division II leagues in the world, on par with the English Championship, Liga Adelante and 2. Bundesliga.”
Morgan Copes, co-founder of the Birmingham Hammers, has been hired vice president and will serve as USL Birmingham’s main point of contact. Other staff members will be added by the end of the year or early next year.
Birmingham Hammers Vice President John Killian welcomed USL Birmingham stating to Bham Now:
“The Hammers will now proudly be part of the USL Birmingham family. The Hammers are part of the USL organization and we will be determining the brand as we go forward. We plan to play in the PDL next year and launch USL team thereafter for the 2019 season. This is an exciting time for all involved, and we look forward to seeing the various ways members will be integrated into the new club moving forward. We are extremely proud of what our members have accomplished and for our collective efforts to establish a professional soccer team in Birmingham.”
Mayor William Bell best summed up USL’s expansion into Birmingham.
“Thank you (USL) for putting Birmingham on the map when it comes to soccer in our community!”